Mexican Drug Cartel Working With Members Of Mexican Mennonite Community Indicted For Large Scale Marijuana Trafficking
DENVER – A federal grand jury in Denver returned a nine-count indictment charging seven individuals with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and use of a communications device (phone) to facilitate drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Barbra Roach announced. The grand jury returned the indictment on August 6, 2013. One of the seven defendants, Abraham Friesen-Remple, was arrested on August 20, 2013 in the Santa Teresa Point of Entry in New Mexico. He appeared in federal court yesterday, September 10, 2013, for a detention hearing. A U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered Friesen-Remple to be held without bond pending a resolution of the case.
According to court records and testimony presented during Friesen-Remple’s detention hearing, the defendants worked with a Mexican Drug Cartel, trafficking thousands of kilograms of marijuana first by putting the drugs in the gas tanks of cars, and later putting the drugs inside large farm equipment. At the beginning of the conspiracy the vehicles crossed the Mexican border and drove to Colorado Springs, where the marijuana was off-loaded at an auto-body repair shop. Drivers then took the marijuana to various places across the country.
After the individual who ran the Colorado Springs auto body shop was arrested, the organization decided to move the marijuana trafficking from Colorado Springs to North Carolina. Trucks carrying farm equipment continued to transport the marijuana throughout the United States. Many of those charged are members of the Mexican Mennonite community.
Those indicted by the grand jury are:
Law enforcement are searching for the other six defendants in this case, all of whom are considered fugitives and many of which are believed to be outside the United States.
“This case involves smuggling literally tons of marijuana into the United States from Mexico, with Mexican Cartel involvement,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “International trafficking of drugs, particularly with organized crime involvement, is a top priority of federal law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The fact that this case involves marijuana in no way reduces its status as a high priority matter, consistent with recent guidance from the Department of Justice on marijuana enforcement issues.”
“The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to fulfill its mission by investigating and dismantling high level drug trafficking organizations,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Barbra Roach. “Marijuana traffickers continue to pose a significant threat to our young people and our communities.”
If convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, the defendants face not less than 10 years, and not more than life in prison, as well as a $10,000,000 fine. If convicted of use of a communications facility (telephone) for drug trafficking, those charged with that offense face not more than 4 years in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including the Denver, Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs offices.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Podolak and Michele Korver.
The allegations contained in the indictment are charges, and the defendant are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.